Bring out the inner beast with 7UP Revive

Dubai is one of my most favorite places in the world. If you know me personally, you would know the number of people I’m acquainted with in Khalifa land. Yes, I have at least 50 relatives each, from both sides of the family. Crazy, isn’t it? So every time I visit (which is almost once and sometimes even twice a year), I have a zillion social gatherings to attend and places to check out. But this time, I wasn’t the one going to Dubai, in fact some of my closest cousins were flying down to Mumbai. Needless to say, I was excited beyond words. Since they were visiting the city of kaali peelis and rickshaws for the first time, obviously there was plenty in store for them. So I took it upon myself to plan their itinerary in order to give them a feel of the city of dreams. Keeping in mind their tight schedule (yeah, family get-togethers are never ending), we decided to dedicate a day solely to Mumbai Darshan. We couldn’t cover everything due to lack of time, but we wanted to make the most of all that was on our list. And so it began…

We started off with the iconic Siddhivinayak Temple. Since it was a Tuesday morning, it was quite crowded and we had to wait a while in the line that lets you inside the temple. Luckily, I had carried a few bottles of 7UP Revive (which BTW is India’s first hydrotonic drink launched by 7UP), which I handed out to each one of my entourage. It was going to be a long and hectic day ahead, so it was important for us to keep hydrating ourselves. A couple of sips and we were good to go. Once we entered, we took blessings of the great deity and soon after, left for our next destination – High Street Phoenix.

An all-girls trip is incomplete without some shopping and binging and luckily, this mall houses the best of both. We started shopping and as you know, it never really stops till someone drops…well, that’s exactly what happened in our case too. We went strolling about for a couple of hours and were eventually feeling drained out. Guess what came to our rescue? 7UP Revive! There’s just something amazing about this hydrating beverage. One sip and you start feeling fresh again as it helps replenish all the fluids and electrolytes that are lost while sweating. No matter how exhausted you may be, this instant replenisher surely helps to restore all that is lost and makes you super active super fast.

Now that we were fully recharged, we decided to proceed to South Mumbai to admire the stunning Queen’s Necklace, Marine Drive, VT Station and the iconic Gateway of India. At every destination, we halted for a few pictures. After all, we all need good Facebook profile pictures, don’t we? And who would ever miss capturing a silhouette against the setting sun at Marine Drive or a picture with the royal Taj Mahal Palace hotel in the background. Since we were close to Colaba Causeway, we decided to walk through the street and indulge in some street shopping as well. At first, we decided to stop at one of the cafes adorning the street to grab a quick bite, but then one of my cousins said, ‘Guys, I’m feeling quite energetic. This blue bottle is bringing out the beast in me. Do we really need to stop?’ So we joyfully sipped on our 7UP Revive bottles and proceeded as per plan.

It was about 5.30pm and we still had to drive through the Bandra-Worli Sealink, visit Mt. Mary Church and enjoy some Mumbai-special chaat at Juhu beach. So we quickly got into the car and took off to complete all that was left for the day. By the time we ticked everything off the list, it was 9pm and we couldn’t believe how active we were feeling as our day had begun at 10am. It is only natural to feel tired and low on energy if you’ve been out the entire day but we, on the other hand, were full of life. I guess it’s because we kept hydrating ourselves with 7UP Revive. Had we not, this scorching summer heat would’ve surely taken a toll on us. That’s when we decided to rename it as our ‘Sweat loss ka recharge.’ It truly brought all the fun and excitement back in our day every time we felt fatigued and lethargic.

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Celebrating the Harvest season at Tiqri, Taj Santacruz

In a country like India, festivals are synonymous to food. If a family is celebrating a big day, a grand feast is sure to follow. So if your loved ones are Bengali or Punjabi, you’re most certainly in for a treat this weekend. And if not, don’t worry! You can still enjoy their traditional fare – courtesy Taj Hotels.

Offering an amalgam of flavorsome recipes, Taj city hotels are hosting a special food festival with lip-smacking delicacies from West Bengal and Punjab on the occasion of Poila Baisakh and Baisakhi. So when I was invited to Tiqri, Taj Santacruz‘ all-day dining restaurant, I was delighted beyond words. Thanks to Chef Dinesh and his hospitable team, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

A special a-la-carte menu offering a variety of Bengali and Punjabi dishes has been created for this week. Since we were there for a tasting, we got to sample a little bit of all the dishes.

We began the revelries of Nobo Borsho with:
– A chilled and soothing glass of Bengali style Aamrus that was similar to Aam panna
– Kasha Posto Bora served with Chole Dhonepatar Bhate – Poppy seed cakes with chickpea and cilantro mash went perfectly well with each other
– Egg roll – One can never really go wrong with Kolkata’s famous street food speciality
– Chicken Rezale – chunks of chicken were dunked in a rich, aromatic white gravy made with subtle spices
– Potol Posto – pointed gourd in poppy seed based gravy was a different take to the usual gourd masala made at home. Also, this dish is best enjoyed in the months of summer, as pointed gourd is a summer vegetable in India
– Doi Fulkopi – Bengali style cauliflower made with spicy yogurt curry was a simple, classic dish, full of flavor and less spicy
– Bhaja Muger Dal – Lost my heart to the special aroma of dry roasted moong dal and dollops of ghee, making this sumptuous Bengali specialty dal my favorite for the night
– Luchi – Deep-fried puffed bread, best enjoyed with various gravies
– Nolen Gurer Mousse – Date palm jaggery mousse garnished with strawberries was smooth, light and well-balanced.

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Aamrus

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Poppy seed cakes & egg wrap

While our Bengali fare consisted of all the above, our Baisakhi feast was also an extravagant one:
– Dry fruit lassi – Sweetened lassi enhanced with dry fruits and saffron was indulgently rich, creamy and delicious
– Sarso Murgh Tikka – We all know how famous the North is for all its delectable mustard infused preparations. This tandoor grilled chicken was no different
– Tandoori Haryali Aloo – Marinated with fresh garden leaves, these baby potatoes were flavorful and pleasing
– Mutton Saagwala – A typical North Indian version of lamb and spinach based curry, this dish was rich and bursting with flavors
– Pindi Chana – If you’re enjoying a North Indian meal, you know that Rawalpindi inspired chana will always be a winner
– Dum wale Rajma Chawal – Rajma Chawal, dum cooked for several hours and then served like a biryani made this aromatic dish oh-so-comforting!
– Mutton Biryani – This amazingly tasty preparation consisting of mutton chunks and rice was dum cooked with spices making it irresistible
– Laccha Paratha – flaky Indian flat bread served with the gravies
– Makhana Kheer – Lotus seed in sweetened and reduced flavoured milk. Small pieces of makhanas just added a twist to the humble rabdi.

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Dry fruit lassi

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Dum Rajma Chawal

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Top (l-r): Mutton Saagwalla, Pindi Channa… Bottom (l-r): Cauliflower, Chicken Stew & Dal

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Nulen Gurer Mouuse & Makhana Kheer

After eating so much, we were obviously stuffed but more than the food, we were brimming with all the love and care that was showered upon us by the kind and hospitable team at Tiqri.

FYI:

While West Bengal and Punjab are all set to celebrate today, Mumbai is geared up to usher in the harvest season with great pomp at Masala KraftThe Taj Mahal Palace, Tiqri – Taj Santacruz and Masala BayTaj Lands End from 14th to 23rd April, 2017. While the latter will only be serving traditional Punjabi delicacies, one can make the most of Bengali and Punjabi specialties at the other two city hotels. If you want to get a true feel of the festivities in West Bengal & Punjab, don’t miss out on this food fest.

2 healthy dessert recipes made with organic products from Kokos Natural

We’re currently living in the ‘organic’ age! All of a sudden, everyone has started focusing on all things pure and natural. So when I came across Kokos Natural, I thought maybe its just another brand in the market. But I was wrong!

Kokos Natural is an export and retail house that specializes in selling natural & organic products. With products like organic coconut sugar, Himalayan pink salt and raw banana flour, they aim to transform the food industry into a healthier and organic eating one.

FYI –

– Organic Coconut Sugar:
With the sweetness similar to cane sugar, organic coconut sugar is the best substitute sweetener without any negative health hazards. Suitable for anyone with diabetes, gallstones, cancer and heart diseases, coconut sugar is obtained from the Coconut Nucifera grown in abundance in South India, South East Asia and Hawaii. It is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives.
Their Tropikoko Organic Coconut Sugar is one of the healthiest sweeteners as it has a low glycemic Index, low fructose content and trace amounts of various vitamins and minerals.

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– Himalayan Pink Salt:
Hand mined from the Himalayan Mountain range, Himalayan pink salt is not only a substitute, but a better choice than table salt. The salt color varies from pink to white to red, depending on the rich iron content in it. Protected from today’s pollution because of its pristine environment, snow and lava beds, Himalayan pink salt is said to be the purest form of salt on Earth.
Their Natirèl Himalayan Pink Salt is the best option to regulate body hydration levels, blood pressure, and healthy sleep patterns. It also has less sodium intake per serving in comparison to table salt, making it a healthier option.

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– Raw Banana Flour:
A gluten free replacement of flour, raw banana flour is becoming a fast growing trend amongst a lot of new diets. With its light texture, high fiber content, low sugar content, low cholesterol and zero chemicals and preservatives, it is the fastest growing substitute for wheat and whole wheat flours.
Their Natirèl Raw Banana Flour can be incorporated into every meal of the day and can be preserved from 6 months to a year, if stored in place free of moisture and excess heat.

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Here are some super easy, healthy dessert recipes incorporating all the above products. Don’t forget to tag me if you try them 🙂

Chocolate Beetroot Cake:
Ingredients:
– 160g roasted beetroot (about 1 medium/large)
– 90g Kokos Natural Organic Coconut sugar
– 60g dark chocolate, chopped
– 80g olive oil
– 2 eggs
– A pinch of salt
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 20g cocoa powder
– 55g Kokos Natural Raw Banana Flour
– 1 tbsp tapioca flour
– 1 tsp baking powder

Method:
– Puree the beetroot, chocolate and sugar together for 10 seconds in a blender.
– Add the oil, eggs, salt, vanilla and cacao powder, and blend for 10 seconds.
– Add the banana flour, tapioca flour and baking powder and fold until well combined. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30-25 minutes at 160*C.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Ingredients:
– 2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 2 large eggs
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 pinch ground cinnamon
– 2 cups chocolate chips
– 1 tbsp Kokos Natural Himalayan Pink Salt

Method:
– Preheat oven to 180*C
– In a mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter together at medium speed until fluffy.
– Add the eggs and beat until combined.
– In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, then add to the butter mixture and combine. Stir in the chips by hand.
– Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets by rounded 1-inch balls, leaving 1 inch between them. Sprinkle a pinch of Himalayan pink salt on top of each ball of dough.

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5 min Singaporean flat rice noodles

Singaporean food is a significant cultural attraction for tourists and visitors. Influenced by various ethnic groups like Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Sri Lankan among others, Singaporean cuisine hails from everywhere but is still unique in its own way.

So when I heard Foodhall was hosting an exclusive masterclass in association with the Singapore Embassy, I had to be there. The food superstore’s in-house chef whipped up some delectable recipes that were easy to make and not very time consuming too. Here’s a super quick recipe of the flat rice noodles with fresh herbs by Food Strategist, Swasti Aggarwal.

All ingredients are available at the Singapore food aisle in the store.

Ingredients:
1 pkt Koka flat rice noodles (soak in warm water to soften)
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– A pinch of salt and pepper

For herb and olive mix:
3 tbsp fresh parsley
– 6 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
– 1/4 cup green olive, thinly sliced
– 4 canned artichoke (cut to bite size)
– A pinch of rock salt and freshly cracked black pepper
– 1 cup good quality olive oil
– 12 Cherry tomatoes, halved

Method:
Heat up a non-stick pan and add olive oil.
– Fry the garlic till fragrant.
– Add flat rice noodles and the rest of the ingredients. Can also add other vegetables as per taste.
– Lightly fry for 3 to 4 minutes and season to taste.

Singapore Class

 

3 Refreshing Fruit Infused Monsoon Recipes

Monsoon is the perfect season to enjoy cold, tangy beverages that quench your thirst and hydrate you at the same time. And if those drinks are healthy and super yummy, what more can you ask for? Over the past few months, I’ve heard people talk about fruit infusions. If you’re wondering what that is…they’re basically a combination of several fruits, best enjoyed when immersed in hot/cold water. So I obviously decided to experiment with them and see what the fuss is about.

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Image sourced from Pinterest

Ty.phoo – the Indian arm of a 100+ year old British brand known for its delectable tea flavors has recently introduced a refreshing range of fruit infusions that can be savored as a hot or cold beverage. Their luxurious brews are caffeine free and available in three exotic flavors – Orange Spicer: A blend of fruity orange with cinnamon, ginger and clove, Blackcurrant Bracer: Made from blackcurrant berries, hibiscus and rosehips and Lemon & Lime Zest: Made from lemon and lemon zest.

Infusions

I decided to check them out and discovered some really cool things in the bargain:
1) If you ever get bored of water, infused water brings variety to the palate and is a fun,  simple yet delicious option that keeps you hydrated through the day.
2) Ty.phoo’s fruit infusions are natural sources of antioxidants and are a great alternative against artificially flavored drinks. So good-bye fizzy sodas and (so-called) diet drinks!
3) Aromatic and refreshing, these thirst-quenchers boost your energy levels and prevent you from feeling lethargic.
4) They are packed with freshness that help calm you down after a long and tiring day at work or post an intense work-out.
5) Each pack contains 25 tea bags and is packaged in a heat sealed envelope that helps retain their flavors…which means you can experiment and come up with atleast 10 different recipes. Isn’t that awesome!

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Photo Credit – http://www.brit.co

In short, Ty.phoo’s fruit infusions make the perfect monsoon coolers that can be relished at any given time of the day. Wondering how to use them? Try out these quick, easy and stimulating recipes at home. I promise, you’ll thank me later 🙂

1) Orange Spicer:
Ingredients:
– Water
– Ty.phoo’s Orange Spicer Infusion
– Orange juice
– Clove
– Bay leaves

Method:
– Add two bags of the infusion to a cup of hot water and infuse for 2-3 minutes.
– Boil a cup of water and add in 9 cloves and 3 bay leaves. Keep on flame until the water is reduced to half. Strain and keep aside.
– In a glass, pour 1/2 the infused concentrate along with the strained water.
– Add orange juice, as per taste.
– Stir well and serve. Can also be refrigerated for 2-3 hours prior.

2) Blackcurrant & Peach:
Ingredients:
– Soda
– Water
– Ty.phoo’s Blackcurrant Bracer Infusion
– Cinnamon
– Peach

Method:
– Add two bags of the infusion to a cup of water and infuse for 2-3 minutes.
– Cut 2 peaches into chunks.
– In a separate glass, pour 1/2 the infused concentrate. Add in the peaches and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
– Stir in the soda and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

3) Lemon & Lime Cooler:
Ingredients:
– Water
– Ty.phoo’s Lemon and Lime Zest Infusion
– Ginger
– Mint leaves
– Pineapple

Method:
– Add two bags of the infusion to a jug of water and infuse for a few minutes until the water changes color.
– Cut 1/4 pineapple into chunks, grate some ginger, finely chop a spring of mint leaves and add to the infused water.
– Refrigerate for about 2-3 hours and serve chilled.

*Ty.phoo fruit infusions are available at all leading MBO’s such as Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, Big Bazaar, Modern Bazaar etc. They also have a wide variety of black teas, green teas, flavored teas and organic infusions.

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Taste of Thailand in Mumbai

Thai cuisine, one of the most popular cuisines in the world influenced by Chinese and Indian foods, is unique and has a distinct flavor of its own. With strong aromatic components, Thai food is a wonderful amalgamation of five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. But don’t worry! You don’t need to travel all the way to Thailand to experience its national cuisine – simply head to Sofitel Mumbai BKC before 5th June, 2016!

The bustling BKC property is hosting ‘Tastes of Thailand,’ a ten-day long Thai festival in association with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and SO Sofitel Bangkok. Mumbaikars can revel in an array of authentic and sumptuous Thai cuisine prepared by Chefs Chitsanuphat Dungjampa and Chalermchai Tavornaroonrat from the Bangkok property, who have specially flown in to provide a true taste of their homeland. Indulge in an eclectic mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes complemented by a range of exotic spices and fresh herbs. An innovative menu has specially been crafted by these talented chefs featuring Thai speciality dishes.

Chefs Chitsanuphat Dungjampa, Manavl Koul and Chalermchai Tavornaroonrat

Chefs behind this festival

I attended the launch of the festival on 27th May, 2016 in the esteemed company of Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, General Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC and Ms. Sirin Surathin- Deputy Consul General. Our evening started with a traditional Thai dance performance that took place in the lobby – the grace and grandeur of which set the perfect tone for the meal ahead!

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Traditional Thai dance performance

Soon after, we made our way to Pondicherry Cafe, the hotel’s lively coffee shop that’s playing host to the festival. The regular buffet spread did grab our eyeballs for a few minutes until we reached the Thai section. The salad counter featured the likes of Yum Woon Sen (Glass Noodle Salad), Som Tam (Spicy Papaya Salad) and lots more. The latter was being prepared on the spot with chilli, garlic and tomatoes and was a sight to see. It surely hit all the right notes with its flavors and spices. The main course consisted of Gai Phad Kra Prao (Basil Chicken), Pla Nueng Manao (Steamed fish with a raw garlic, lime and chili sauce), Phad Thai Goong (Shrimp Phad Thai Noodles), Gang Phed Ped Yang (Roasted Duck Curry) among others. Out of everything I tried, I loved Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Prawn Soup), Gang Kiew Wan Puck (Green Thai Curry), Chu Chee Pla (Fish with Red Curry Sauce).

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Menu

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Shrimp sesame toast

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Som Tam (Spicy papaya salad)

Chu Chee Pla (Fish with Red Curry Sauce)

Chu Chee Pla (Fish with red curry sauce)

Known for its lavish dessert spread, the counter had endless varieties ranging from ice creams to chocolate-based desserts to Thai-inspired desserts and more. Though its hard to pick what I liked most (considering I’m a dessert person), the refreshing coconut based Woon Ma Prao Orn (Young coconut jelly), Sticky Rice with Black Bean in Coconut Milk, Banana in Coconut Milk, White Chocolate Brownie and the Himalayan Honeycomb were unique and worth trying.

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White chocolate brownie

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Brownie with banana, caramel, green apple & Himalayan honeycomb

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience with impeccable hospitality, superb service, great food and entertainment.

Venue: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Date: 27th May to 5th June, 2016
Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards
Price: Lunch and Dinner – INR 3,100 (plus taxes)
For table reservations, please call +91 (22) 6117 5115

*The meal was paid for by Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Cook Healthy…Eat Healthy!

More often than not, when we see a delicious food picture, we want to jump right into our screens and savor every bit of it. Being the social media freaks that we are, our timelines are always flooded with those tempting videos/pictures that leave us drooling for hours. Most of us either land up at those restaurants to satisfy our cravings or simply make those dishes at home without paying attention to the health aspect of it. We seldom realize that what looks good may not always be healthy. But healthy food can surely taste and look good.

Fresh ingredients and the use of a good oil are the most important aspects involved in cooking. Problems like high cholesterol, heart risks are on a rise due to a wrong choice of oil. However, in a city like Mumbai where people are exposed to global cuisine and basic health orientation, consumers are getting more conscious about the oil they use for their day-to-day consumption. Keeping in mind the number of brands advertising on TV and on the internet, making the right choice can surely be a task! But after having tried various brands of olive oil, I recommend using Leonardo Olive Oil by Cargill Foods India – available in three variants – Pomace (used for frying), Extra Light (used for stir frying, sauteing and shallow frying) and Extra Virgin (used for salads, pastas and dips). Now I’m sure you’re wondering what is so special about this oil? So here’s why I recommend it:

  1. It’s lighter than most other oils available in the market
  2. Your food will surely be tastier than ever before
  3. It is 100% natural and very high in antioxidants
  4. It has innumerable health benefits, some of which are listed below:
    – Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and hypertension
    – Maintains cholesterol and sugar levels
    – Reduces the risk of breast cancer
    – Protects the skin from premature aging
    – Helps in controlling weight
    – Improves metabolic rate
    – Fights stomach ulcers and chronicle gastritis
  5. Repairs damaged skin by making it softer, smoother and healthier. Not just that, it also exfoliates chapped lips and is a great moisturizer that can be used all over the body too
  6. Adds lustre, body, softness and bounciness to the hair and also prevents dandruff
  7. Pocket-friendly and easily available at all modern retail stores and hyper markets.

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It’s been a week since I’ve been using Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it’s made cooking easier, faster and so much fun. In the past seven days, I’ve made spaghetti Aglio-olio, zucchini and cream cheese bruschetta, hummus and spaghetti in pesto sauce!

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Spaghetti Aglio-olio

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Zucchini & Cream Cheese Bruschetta

If you also want to relish good food without compromising on health, start with these two quick and easy recipes. Incase you land up making them, please do share the same with me 🙂

Hummus:
For those of you who have never tried hummus – it’s a thick spread/food dip, beige-ish in color, originally from the Middle East but now popular all over the world. Traditionally enjoyed with warm pita bread, it can also be used in salads, sandwiches and wraps.

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Hummus

Ingredients:
– 2 cans of chickpeas (preferably soaked overnight/for a couple of hours in water)
– 4 tbsp Tahini paste
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– Salt (to taste)
– Paprika (optional)
– Olives (optional)
– Parsley (optional)

Preparation time:
5 mins

Method:
– Add chickpeas, tahini paste, crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some water from the chickpeas into the food processor.
– Turn on the food processor and slowly pour oil into it.
– Check the consistency – it should be properly combined, thick and smooth. The color will also change. Incase it does not, add more tahini paste and oil.
– Once done, remove in a serving dish and generously drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil. Decorate with black/green sliced olives or finely chopped parsley. Sprinkle paprika over it and cover.
– Place it in the refrigerator and remove 20 minutes before serving.

*This is a basic recipe of hummus. You can keep experimenting with the flavorings.

Spaghetti in Pesto Sauce:
Pesto is a green colored, flavorful sauce originally from Italy. It goes perfectly well with different kinds of pastas and can also be used in wraps and sandwiches instead of butter and mayonnaise.

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Spaghetti in Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:
– 1 packet spaghetti, boiled in a pinch of salt and extra virgin olive oil, until al dente
– 2 cups basil
– 1/2 cup pine nuts, shelled
– 1/2 cup Parmesan
– 4 cloves garlic
– 4 tbsp olive oil
– Salt (as per taste)
– Cherry tomatoes (optional)
– Olives (optional)

Preparation time:
10 mins

Method:
– Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor. Add more olive oil and Parmesan, if required.
– Once perfectly combined and smooth, remove in a pan.
– Add boiled spaghetti and mix well with the sauce. Cook for about 1 minute.
– Garnish with Parmesan. Can also use cherry tomatoes and olives .

By switching to Leonardo Olive Oil, #IChooseHealthy ….. What about you?